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7 Ways For Your Band To Get A Gig

So you’re the best thing since One Direction/Metalica/De La Soul/The Chemical Brothers/Oasis. You’ve written some great songs, and now you want to share them with the broader world, and you want to bask in the adoration of an actual audience, and not just your mum and little sister who barge in on you when you’re rehearsing in the garage.  Let use help you find your first gig.

But how do you get gigs? 

Step 1

Be ready. Have your music ready and recorded and have a bio, press shots and EPK. It would help if you told the promoter/venue owner what you sound like, who you are, and your story. 

Step 2 

Round up a list of the bars, clubs, and venues you’d like to gig at. You might like the new cocktail joint that’s just opened up, but if you play heavy speed metal, then you’re unlikely to get the gig. So be realistic. Once you’ve drawn up your dream guest list, it’s time to go round and meet-and-greet. Get in touch with the venue in advance and ask for the relevant person to meet, the leading promoter, the actual owner etc. Then, head down for one of their gigs, show them support and bring a USB loaded with your music and press kit. There is no substitute for meeting people – although business is increasingly done online, getting in front of someone and supporting their gig or venue while directly marketing and promoting your act is priceless. You are your best PR, so do it face-to-face.

Step 3

If you really, really can’t make it to the venue, email them or get in touch with them via social media. Be professional, be polite and get to the point – no waffle, just a straight-up hi, we like you, maybe you’ll like our pitch. The bigger you get, the more your name, previous gigs, social media profile will work for you and the less you’ll have to glad-hand promoters and venues. But in the early days, you’ll have to do the majority of the heavy-lifting and ask the questions. So don’t be afraid of rejection

Step 4

Don’t ask for the moon on a stick. Yet. Be humble, be patient and be aware that you’re just starting. Your first gig might be an amazing one supporting your favourite band, and you might get a record contract off the back of it. However, it’s more likely that it’ll be at 6 pm when people are still eating, and the sound engineer is the only one paying attention. So lower the expectations, bring a smile and enjoy the first gig however it goes. 

Step 5 

Work with other bands and promoters to put on your own night. Grab five bands, bring down 20 people each, and you have a guaranteed crowd and support network. Grow your own series of gigs and build up brand and band awareness yourself. Of course, there’s more work to do – you’ll be responsible for promotion, marketing, sound engineering, stage, guestlist etc. – but you will equally share any profits between you all, and you’ll have done it all on your own without any outside help. Major kudos! 

Step 6 

Network, network, network. Like Step 2, get out and about and meet people, be excited about your band, go to other people’s gigs and support the local scene. It’s hard work, but if you’re passionate about music, it won’t feel like work, and you’ll get to meet all the right people. 

Step 7 

Know your facts and figures. So, in the UAE, at least, live music is hard to sustain. In licensed venues like pubs, bars and clubs, venues have to pay a license fee for each band member. Because of this, it means it costs them money to put on your band. That can be offset by selling tickets, but even shifting 50 tickets can be a hard sell if it’s your first gig. So either look to build your fanbase up in cafes and coffee shops or unlicensed venues and get gigs that way or know that if you do get a gig in a properly licensed venue, that you’re unlikely to be offered a considerable amount of cash due to the overheads.

It’s a tricky situation for bands, promoters and venues alike and we could be here for hours discussing the ins and outs of it all – but be aware there are restrictions, it’s not a level playing field and that you might struggle to get a deal that pays. 

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